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AXIS Capital expanding reinsurance product suite, CEO says

AXIS Capital Holdings Ltd. saw continued pricing pressures in most lines and markets during Jan. 1 renewals, CEO Albert Benchimol said on a call to discuss fourth-quarter 2016 earnings.

Benchimol said the company's insurance book saw an overall price change of negative 2% in the fourth quarter, compared with a decline of 3% a quarter earlier. Catastrophe-exposed property and London-based global specialty lines experienced the greatest pricing pressure, with large accounts seeing the most competition.

The overall rate change for the company's U.S. division was up 3% in the quarter, with positive rate movement in casualty lines and property lines seeing a slowing of rate declines, Benchimol said. Although the aviation market has experienced intense competition, it is now showing encouraging signs and "may have reached a bottom," Benchimol said.

Commenting on renewals for the company's reinsurance book, Benchimol said pricing continued on its downward path, but there are signs of increased discipline in certain lines and regions. "The magnitude of price declines was generally lower across the reinsurance portfolio," in the most recent period, he said.

The company has made certain changes to its business mix that includes exiting certain programs to improve profitability, Benchimol added.

"As we look further into 2017, we will conservatively expand our reinsurance product and geographic scope into areas like mortgage, flood, regional multiline and using our Lloyd's syndicate to better serve our clients," he said.